Friday, 18 November 2011

Heartbreak and hope


I'm not a man who's often lost for words. It might be difficult sometimes, emotional. But usually the words are on the tip of my tongue and I'll find them eventually.

This time, though, I just don't have the words. So you'll have to bear with me if this isn't the best written blog update in the world. It's tough when you feel so very much that you can't do your feelings justice.

Last week I got the chance to meet with MSPs and show them my film. And I thought that was as good as it could get. That reaching the Parliament was the big achievement.

I was wrong.

Yesterday and today I have had the privilege of speaking at the Glasgow North East Carers AGM and the Carers Link AGM. I am completely and utterly overwhelmed by the reaction my fellow carers have had to the 'Tommy on Tour' campaign and to my wee film. They embraced the campaign and the film - they took them to their hearts - and they thanked me for all that I had done. For speaking out. For taking their stories and making sure they were listened to. They thanked me for making sure they were heard and recognised. I feel humbled by it and so very glad that the people whose opinions most matter in all this support what I have done.

I really wish I could tell you how much all this means to me. I'm in awe of the kindness and generosity and goodwill shown towards me and the 'Tommy on Tour' campaign over the past couple of days. Most of all, I have a sense of shared experience, of heartbreak and hope. Heartbreak in what we've already been through, all the difficulties we've faced, heartbroken by dementia itself. But hopeful, so hopeful, that there are better things ahead. People are enthusiastic about the new carers group that I'm chairing and how it's going to build on the work that 'Tommy on Tour' started. They think it can really make a difference.

If our stories can be read, can be heard, imagine the difference it'll make if all those decision-makers start to act on them. Imagine how much better life could be if politicians and doctors and councillors and social work and everyone who is involved in caring for someone with dementia read those stories and thought about a new way of doing things. A better way. A way that carers themselves have wanted for so long.

I have to thank each and every person who has spoken to me at these events. Who has told me what the campaign means to them, or just held my hand in a way that makes their feelings clear without words. Such kind, wonderful, caring people. Thank you.


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